Thursday, September 8, 2011


I can't remember what day it was when I last saw someone on our back road. Somehow it is already the 8th of September and my body clock is still at around August 28th, wanting one more swim in the river, time to cut more basil and make pesto and think about canning all the garden tomatoes. The woodchuck got the broccoli and one garden cabbage plot, but so far hasn't found the more hidden front yard cabbage plot.

Then Irene came and turned the calendar and the body inside out. Swamped the garden. Just because I've learned the hard way over too many years is why all the firewood is stacked high & dry.

It's been raining the last five days. I mean raining.

The covered bridge in the village is safe. I knew it would be. Look at the way the stone slabs are cribbed and how high the bridge is. I have a feeling the work boss on that job a few generations ago said: "Yeah, it all looks good, but let's put the timber sills just a foot higher. One more foot, boys!" The crew thought he was nuts or a crank or a hardass, but that's just how much the river torrent of Ms. Irene missed the bridge by. I've an old friend up in the village, the oldest resident of the village in fact (been there since WW2) and her eyes still widen when we talk about Irene and how close things got for the village and the covered bridge.

At night, with all the rain, the river roars. If you love darkness and night powers and mother nature being in control, you need to be with me late at night when I stand beneath our front yard hemlock trees and just listen. The mud aroma from the river absorbs all parts. This river sidewinds down from South Pond in Marlboro, Vermont and picks up these days every stream, brook, weep, snot, sniffle and trickle off the messy woodlands along the way. This river has hurt people, wrecked homes, removed property (including our own) and right now it's teaching a lesson to many who took it for granted. Called it nothing but a "crik". It's the maker of this valley, always was.

It's a proud sight to see up river how our neighbor Lyle Howe kept his foot bridge intact. I remember years ago how he lost the first one he built, because a lot of it landed down river on our land, worthless. I didn't ask but watched how Lyle and some helpers planned carefully for the next bridge, and maybe this second one has been compromised a bit at the cribbing and staircase, but from the road it looks like a bonafide survivor. Three cheers for a well-planned second effort.

A few more miles up river someone who owns a fishing pole enterprise kept his building on its feet. We all thought that one would be a goner. The river had to go right under and possibly right through it. We bicycled up the hobbled region right after Irene wasted through and there was the building pinned to its piers, looking good. I'm sure soaked inside and washed out all around it, but another survivor.

Our road's still closed. Dumptrucks are working late. The road's gone to mud, more than three miles of it. We are hiking out at 5AM and picking up our ride and looking for where we can do our work through the day on drier ground. With no visual focus before dawn and in all that dark water roar of the river as our only bearing (the road used to be a bearing, a star) we wait to climb back down onto the river shore where we can work cutting trees, gathering good flat stone, sit by the river as it subsides and wait for someone to come by and call it "a crik".

the friendly sign at the top just tells it like it is for now

the bottom photograph is how our road looks coming from Massachusetts